Once upon a time, you were afraid of the dark.
There were monsters in the closet and bogeymen beneath the bed, and nobody could see them except you. You were sure that if you put your foot on the floor, you might get eaten.
And then you grew up.
These days, you're not afraid of something imaginary. You're a pretty brave kid, in fact, but would you have the guts to do something your friends thought was dumb? In "Luz Sees the Light" by Claudia Dávila, a young girl does just that.
Like any young chica, 12-year-old Luz loved chocolate, shopping and her family and friends. It was especially good when all those things came together, which is why Luz asked her mother for a ride to the mall one day. Luz hoped those new European shoes, the ones she'd been dying for, the ones she'd been saving for, the ones the told her friend Anika about, might finally be in stock.
This was going to be a great summer, Luz just knew it. She had a cool new neighbor named Robert, and he was really talented with computers. Anika even liked Robert (maybe a little too much) and then there were those shoes.
But it was going to be a weird summer, too.
Gas was getting very expensive so Luz's mother hated to drive everywhere, especially since walking was free. Food was getting expensive, too, so they started shopping for locally-grown food. Luz's odd neighbor, Gord, kept telling Luz and her friends that they needed to "prepare" for the next neighborhood energy black-out. And that corner lot at the end of the block just kept getting more and more trash-filled.
That last weird thing really bugged Luz a lot.
Because her neighbors grew beautiful gardens, Luz thought that maybe the abandoned lot would make a great place to garden. Wouldn't a farm in the city be awesome? If she could get everybody involved, even Anika and Robert, that would be even better. But they thought the idea was bad, and so did everybody else that Luz asked.
So maybe it was time for Luz to take matters into her own gloved hands.
Got a budding environmentalist in the house? Is going green an on-going topic? Then "Luz Sees the Light" is one he (or she) will click with.
With just three earthy-tones (surprisingly, none of them green), author and illustrator Dávila tells the tale of one young girl, her summertime with friends and family and the changes she made in her neighborhood because of the things she learned.
What's particularly nice about this book is that the story is told in a series of drawings, somewhat like a comic book. That means that reluctant readers and young book lovers can both find something to love about Luz.
Perfect as a bridge between easy readers and chapter books, I think this book will put a smile on the face of any 8- to 12-year-old who loves being green. For them, "Luz Sees the Light" is a bright choice.
View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer's children's book reviews weekly.